My Memories of UmKaddada the Capital of the Eastern District of the former Darfur Province
By Mahmoud A. Suleiman
I am writing about UmKaddada from a very different perspective than the disastrous events and atrocities continued plaguing the people of Sudan in Darfur who have endured genocide, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities for over a decade and related to the issue/crisis of the region that I wrote about in my previous articles and books.
UmKaddada referred to administratively in the former Darfur Province as the District of Eastern Darfur and the Rural Council of Eastern Darfur. Thus, it forms one of the six Districts of the Darfur Province.
The localities of Al-Tuwaisha, Jebel Hilla, brooch, Haskaneeta, Um Sauna, Um Humeira, and Alleit Jaralnabi and Sharif Kabbashi were under the administration of the District of Eastern Darfur in the decades before the introduction of the system States by the successive regimes that ruled Sudan.
The main inhabitants of the area belong to the tribal group of Berti. Berti are renowned for their aptitude for seeking knowledge through education. Their early spread by internal migration to all parts of Sudan facilitated that aptitude. Hence, they are the tribal group who lost their mother tongue to Arabic. They have become pioneer teachers and educationists in Darfur. A large number of the men and women were the early teachers at all levels of education schools in Darfur and throughout the Sudan where they became Education torchbearers for successive generations, due to their wide spread throughout the Darfur in particular and Sudan generally. The Berti tribal group is famous for wisdom, proverbs, and the most important of their qualities humility, good listening, and the ability to solve the dilemmas and resolve differences. They made up most of the judges of Sultan Ali Dinar Sultan of Darfur.
East Darfur region suffers from the difficulty of getting drinking water whether human or animal. Water boreholes, Well and Water yards represent the main water sources. The population there depends mainly on water from dwanky. In previous eras, people in villages and rural areas relied on storing water collected during the rainy season in the hollowed trunk of the Baobab Tree (Arabic Tebaldi). Nevertheless, in spite of the difficulty of accessing to adequate water for humans and animals in East Darfur, drinking water from the wells of the City of UmKaddada people find it the most pure, palatable and pleasingly fine drinking water in Darfur. Moreover, there were stories about the past in Darfur with some exaggeration that the British colonial administrators in Darfur used to bring water for drinking from UmKaddada.
The Tebaldi tree has several names including the Latin or scientific name of Adansonia digitata L. – African baobab, dead-rat-tree, monkey-bread-tree. The Baobabs trees store water in the trunk up to 100,000 litres or 26,000 US gallons to endure the harsh drought conditions particular to each region. (Referencehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia).
The tree Baobab that exist in western Sudan, especially intensively in Kordofan closest region to the area of conflict in Darfur, which is the largest trees and the longest in the world may reach a height of 2530 meters and up trunk diameter of 11 meters and outlive this tree to more than a thousand years .
Baobab Tree Reservoir for the poor in Sudan; used as prisons in Australia!
شجرة التبلدىخزان الفقراء في السودان .. تستخدم سجونا في أستراليا
The dried fruit, known as Gungulaiz قنقليزin Sudan, powder of A. digitata (Baobab tree) contains , according to scientists (Reference Wikipedia) about 12% water and modest levels of various nutrients, including carbohydrates, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron andphytosterols, with low levels of protein and fats. The contents of dietary fiber content is (approximately 50% by weight), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and thiamin when assessed to be especially high.
My memories of the short period I worked in UmKaddada Hospital as a Medical Doctor included the cordial welcoming bestowed upon me by the generous people of the city and particularly by two respectful dignitaries. They were al-Sharif Mohammed Hussein the father of Suleiman Mohammed Hussein and al-Sayed Abu Shoak the father of Brigadier Amin Abu Shouk and other notables. Others included the Government officials, Hospital staff of diverse specialties, and others kind individuals whom the space of this short report might not have enough space to accommodate.
It is quintessential to report that I met after about 18 years my former elementary School Teacher Ustaz Zein El-Abideen Mahmoud at the home of the then Administrative Officer for the Eastern Darfur Rural Council Mr. Hamid Tourain.
At the time, the Hospital at UmKaddada was one of the newly built three Rural Hospitals in their respective localities in Kass, Kabkabiya and of course UmKaddada. That was in keeping with the policy of transferring Health services nearer to the residence of citizens, especially in rural areas.
Apart from what is referred to as ‘Life Style Diseases’ such as Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Peptic Ulcer and few surgical emergencies including Caesarian Section for difficult child birth, few incidents of Scorpion Stings, Snake bites and operations following trauma, the people of the locality were healthy. Moreover, the region of East Darfur at the time and generally was free of the epidemic and endemic diseases that remain rife and widely spread in the rest of the Province of Darfur then.
I can recall at least two names of my former elementary school teachers. They were deputy Headmaster Ustaz Ahmed Abulbashar and Ustaz Zein al-Abideen Mahmoud, both of whom from the city of UmKaddada. My contemporary colleagues and classmates from the Eastern District of former Darfur Province, I can recall the following among many others: Ahmed Ibrahim Daoud (al-Ghazali) from Haskaneeta, Abdelhadi Yousif (Abu Kadouk) Abdelrahaman al-Zaki from UmKaddada, Ahmed Ibrahim Yousif, Mohammed Adam Duma, El-Sadiq Mohammed Yousif, Mohammed Omer al-Tom (al- Jozee), Siddiq Abbaker, Adam Ishag, Joada and many others.
Gone by the good old days; my cherished memories remained through the decades!
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is https://thussudan.wordpress.com/